|Way down upon the Suwanee - Labor Day Weekend 2013|
|Self-portrait of a real estate investment broker on Labor Day weekend|
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Update on What Grace is Reading:
I generally order a number of Kindle books at once, some on pre-order, so several weeks later it's not unusual to find some puzzles on my Index. Recently, I stared at a certain title, having no idea why I'd ordered it. The author's name struck no bell. But it seemed to be the only "unread" book on the list, so I opened it. Two pages in, I went back and checked the author's name, because even that little amount was all it took for me to realize this was no ordinary book, but one of a quality only a very few authors on my Kindle book list could boast.
Author: Robert Galbraith. Huh? And then I remembered. Paying no attention to the title (as usual), I had ordered the first of a new mystery series by J. K. Rowling, writing as Robert Galbraith. According to the publicity I read, when The Cuckoo's Calling didn't sell well, the news that Robert Galbraith was really J. K. Rowling was "leaked," and the sales skyrocketed.
Is this a mystery worth reading? Frankly, it's amazing. As always, Rowling needs an editor, taking too many words to say what she has to say, but nonetheless each word is a gem . . . The characterizations are brilliant, leaping off the page, the plot intricate enough to satisfy any mystery fan. Our local Orlando reviewer wasn't far off in likening Rowling's style to a mix of Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie. Plus very few authors have the intimate knowledge of the world of fame and the famous which Rowling exhibits.
The Cuckoo's Calling is not for those who want a quick, fun read. It's about as far from a Cozy as one can get. But for those who enjoy long books with a stunning cast of characters, sensitive, detailed descriptions, plus a complex whodunit, this is the book for you. J. K. Rowling lives up her reputation, and then some. Like a kid waiting for the next Harry Potter, I can hardly wait for the next mystery in this series.
EDITING - The Difference a Word Makes
Some time ago—I believe it was on one of RWA's chapter loops—someone made the statement that they just couldn't believe that certain famous authors took hours pondering the exact right word for a sentence. The commenter seemed to think it was ridiculous for an author to be so fussy. Since I was younger and less experienced at that time, I made no rebuttal. You could say, however, that today's blog is it. Yes, a single word—or sometimes a revision of only two or three words—can make a huge difference. Examples:
He took her by the arm.
He grabbed her by the arm.
She turned the baby onto his back.
Gently, she turned the baby onto his back.
She burst into tears.
An actual edit from my very first New York print book:
Original: He was everyone’s idea of what a tough cop should be. Dirty Harry with straight black hair, hard brown eyes and a slash of a mouth that looked as if he didn’t know the meaning of the word smile.
Editor's version: He was every woman's fantasy of what a gorgeous cop should look like. Complete with straight black hair, hard brown eyes and a mouth which looked like he knew how to kiss.
Just a change of word, here and there, but what a difference! And, of course, because it was my first NY book, I didn't protest, but you can be sure that when Love at Your Own Risk went indie, the original version was back in place.
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Below are some examples culled from my recent edits of Brides of Falconfell. And, no, there are no earth-shaking changes that might have warranted spending half a morning figuring each one out - I don't claim to be a great literary author. But hopefully the examples will be enough to give you an idea of how important very simple changes can be to every author's work. And why self-edits are so important. Examples:
I'd have to think about it tomorrow.
I'd think about it tomorrow. ("Less is More" - shorter is more dramatic)
The demeanor of the perfect fell away.
The demeanor of the perfect housekeeper fell away. (why we all have to edit - sometimes it's simply a mistake)
She swung the shotgun with all the weight she must have put behind the blow to Fraser's head . . .
She swung the shotgun with all her considerable weight . . . (less awkward, more drama)
Shot peppered the bottom of our hole . . .
Shot peppered the bottom of the shake hole . . . (changed for clarity & drama)
It might have been a belated wedding night . . .
The Solstice might have been a belated wedding night . . . (clearer reference & better grammar)
When the dowager made such a pointed remark about when Justine would be leaving . . .
When the dowager made such a point of asking when Justine would be leaving . . .
(nearly as long but less awkward)
Justine and her problems had simply flown from my head.
Justine and her assertions had simply flown from my head. (stronger)
...a wife to demonstrate that, truly, his amatory interests were not in his own kind.
...a wife to demonstrate that, truly, his amatory interests were not in his own gender. (clarity - no doubt about what is meant)
I promised Fraser we would not go but a few feet . . .
I promised a frowning Fraser we would not go but a few feet . . . (more colorful)
I jumped up and nearly ran from the room.
I jumped up and dashed out of the room. (stronger & less awkward)
I stumbled to my feet with such haste, only the rapid footwork of one of the footmen saved my chair from falling over.
I stumbled to my feet with such haste, only quick thinking by one of the footmen saved my chair from falling over. (I really liked "rapid footwork but felt "feet, footwork & footmen" in one sentence was too much.)
I'd last seen Maud's maid sobbing in the kitchen . . .
I'd last seen Maud's elderly maid having hysterics in the kitchen . . . (stronger)
"She what?" I whispered, echoing Nettie's tone.
"She what?" I whispered. (extra words diluted meaning*)
*allowing too many words to detract from the impact of a big moment is something I see frequently in the books I edit.
After a moment's argument with my insatiable curiosity . . .
After a momentary tussle with my insatiable curiosity . . . (more colorful)
He pointed in two nearly opposite directions in hollows between the hills . . .
He pointed toward two widely separated hollows between the hills . . . (less awkward)
Even though we entered through a little-used side door, I thought I hear the rustle . . .
Even though we entered through a little-used side door, I thought I heard the rustle . . .
(Those typos will get you every time)
People who looked to me for guidance (even if hard-pressed to choke back their snickers). I was not supposed to be growing roots at the end of my chaise-longue.
People who looked to me for guidance. I was not supposed to be growing roots at the end of my chaise-longue. ("snickers" is anachronistic & I ended up eliminating the entire thought)
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Thanks for stopping by,
Blair's Website Editing Service
Next Mosaic Moments - September 15, 2013